Brazilians to testify in Cwele drug trafficking case

Three Brazilians will testify in the drug trafficking case against the state security minister’s wife and a fellow suspect.

The drug trafficking case against Frank Nabolisa and Sheryl Cwele (42), the wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, started today.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court heard that the State would call Jean Carlos de Bortole of the Brazilian Federal Police, Carolina Passato Braga, and Denilison Ricardo Maia who examines drugs.

The state alleged that Cwele and Nabolisa conspired to recruit two women as drug mules.

They were Charmaine Moss and Tessa Beetge, who was serving an eight-year jail sentence in Sao Paulo, Brazil after 10 kg of raw cocaine was found in her luggage.

It was Bortole who arrested Beetge, the court heard.

Testifying in court, Moss described how she was allegedly recruited by Cwele to work overseas.
She had met Nabolisa in Johannesburg during preparations for her trip.

Moss, a state witness, allegedly later turned down the job offer.

Cwele and Nabolisa had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

‘Job opportunity’

Moss, a professional beauty therapist, told the court she had met Cwele in 2005 when they both took their children to a choir on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast.

They lost contact for about three years and they “bumped” into each other in 2007 at a shopping centre where Cwele told Moss about a job opportunity overseas.

She would be a beauty therapist and earn R25 000 in two weeks, the court heard.

Moss dropped the offer when she become suspicious. This was after Cwele had introduced her to Nabolisa who was described as an agent who organised overseas jobs.

“Nabolisa paid for the flight from Durban to Johannesburg. My understanding was that I would go straight to Turkey from Johannesburg but they put me in a hotel,” she said.

The hotel was “scary”, had no telephone and had no name written on it.

“When I asked questions, he (Nabolisa) said I was asking too many questions and he smacked me,” she said.

She said Cwele had told her Nabolisa was a good person.

Cwele arrived in court accompanied by two women believed to be her relatives while Nabolisa arrived in court with his feet in shackles accompanied by three armed police officers.

Cwele was granted bail of R100 000 on February 5 and Nabolisa was denied bail because the court considered him a flight risk.

Cwele’s husband, who was in court during the bail application in February, was not in court today.
Nabolisa and Cwele sat close to each other and communicated during the court proceedings. Nabolisa was always smiling.

The trial continues.

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